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PMA webinar explores digital marketing to Gen Z

By
Tim Linden

The Gen Z population, which includes people born between 1996 and about 2009, will pass Millennials (born 1980-1995) as the largest consumer base within about five years. Already they have enormous buying power of their own and influence over what their parents spend, and are joining the workforce in growing numbers, which promises to sharply increasing their economic clout.

Most importantly, like no generation before them, this group relies heavily on digital media to connect with each other, make life and purchasing choices, and share those choices with everyone around them. On Oct. 13, the Produce Marketing Association hosted a webinar designed to explore digital marketing that featured three experts discussing how to connect to the Tik Tok generation.

Moderator Siobhan May of PMA
Moderator Siobhan May of PMA

Moderator Siobhan May of PMA articulated the importance of this newest consumer class and invited Elena Ozeritskaya of Fresh Insight, Pamela Naumes of Bolthouse Farms and Shay Myers of Owyhee Produce to share their experiences in using digital media to connect with these potential customers.

Ozeritskaya began by defining the battle grounds. She noted that Baby Boomers represent traditional families that are health conscious and cook from scratch. The influence of Gen X (1965-1980 birthdays) brought about a revolution of women entering the workplace in huge numbers necessitating convenience foods and prepared meals. Gen Y, also known as Millennials, are tech-savvy, foodies and shop on the go.

She called Gen Z the Youtube, Tik Tok generation who “want it all.” They trend toward organic, sustainable, convenient and are sugar-conscience. They want food that is both healthy and convenient. They want marketer to talk with them as they want to co-create what they eat.

This group was the focus of the seminar.

Ozeritskaya said Baby Boomers will buy whole broccoli while Gen Xers want value-added broccoli options such as packaged pre-cut florets. Gen Z, she said, want broccoli in a new way, such as a snack offering. You have to create something new for them. In marketing to this group, she said to remember, “They don’t just buy your brand, they buy into your brand.”

She also showed some examples of successful online marketing campaigns that are truly outside the box with quick, soft sell messages. For example, an oat milk company uses a tagline on its product that simply says “wow no cow.” She indicated this is a quick message that resonates with this group, and they will share it with friends.

The founder of Fresh Insight, which is a marketing company, recommended that firms attempt to create hype with their online presence.  Successful posts can be shared by millions of viewers and are an excellent way to promote your product with an indirect approach. For example, she explained that the well-known musician and TikToker Lizzo took a food challenge of pairing watermelon with mustard and received 1.4 million views almost overnight.

She said that is a perfect example of successful marketing to Gen Z. It’s not about one-way messaging your brand to that group but engaging them with your brand. “Be inspirational, creative and co-create. That should be the starting point. Gen Z wants to be challenged.”

Ozeritskaya urged all marketers to get on TikTok and start communicating with this group.

In leading the discussion, May noted that efforts to talk to Gen Z must be authentic. She added that so much is dependent on “your unique story” and helping this generation tap into that.

Naumes, who is vice president of digital transformation at Bolthouse, revealed that her job is to build and grow the company’s digital marketing platform. She has a small staff that is constantly engaged on digital media looking for trends that Bolthouse can capitalize on.

She noted that originally the company had a 90-day planning calendar for the posts it would place through social media. They have thrown that out the window and now are creating content on the fly. She indicated you must because what is trending today won’t be relevant in 90 days.

Naumes revealed that there are four pillars to Bolthouse’s digital marketing effort: build an in-house ecommerce platform to capture direct-to-consumer sales; grow sales by active engagement on multiple channels including TikTok, YoiuTube, text and QR codes; create its own digital and social presence by using original videos and also tapping into the influencer community; and position its brand as a thought leader in the digital space.

She said the fourth pillar involves making sure everyone in the company is well versed on digital marketing. “We want everyone in the company to live and breathe digital.”

Naumes holds regular lunch and learn programs for Bolthouse employees to get everyone involved and up to date. She reiterated that the digital team’s mantra is to be quick and agile, which means trying things that sometimes will fail and empowering team members to create without going through a lengthy approval process.

She relayed one win that involved Lizzo. In a quick post, she expressed her love for carrots calling the commodity “the new it girl.” Someone on the team saw the post and on that same day, they sent Lizzo a box of Bolthouse products including carrots and carrot juice. Within a couple of days Lizzo gave the brand a shout-out. “Don’t overthink it,” said Naumes. “Just do it.”

Myers is a TikToker that uses the medium to foster a better image of agriculture and to reach out with simple explanations about producing crops, especially onions, the specialty of Owynee Produce. He noted that he has been creating content since 2007 and has made a fool of himself many times. He has also created videos that have gone viral and garner millions of views. His TikTok persona is #shayfarmkid and cover a wide variety of topics. He often shoots the videos on the fly with his cell phone when something catches his fancy and he wants to allocate a minute of his time to it.

“You never know what content will resonate,” he said, adding that the main goal is to continually engage and inform.

Myers said the general public is uninformed about the agricultural industry, the supply chain and even the most basic information. He posted a video that became very popular merely explaining that onions are sold from storage for as long as year after they are harvested. “People didn’t know that,” he said, in explaining the popularity.

He has some simple rules with his posts including that they must be honest and transparent. He noted that onions aren’t perfect every time and so he shows that.

Myers opined that consumers don’t want to follow companies; they want to follow individuals that have a personality, are honest and engaging. He also noted that “perfect is the enemy of the good.” He added: “Create, create, create, create” in urging the audience to become social media content providers.

Ozeritskaya cautioned the audience that they shouldn’t think of Gen Z as group that will soon be followed by another generation with different ideas. “There’s no going back,” she said, adding that the next generation is going to take digital marketing to the next level, wherever and whatever that is. “You need to jump on.”

Naumes quantified Gen Z is controlling $29 billion in sales and that number is  growing. And remember, she said, they vote with their dollars, and they talk about what they like and what they don’t like.

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December 2, 2021

TUBAC, AZ — The Fresh Produce Association of the Americas announced new and returning board members during its recent convention. Leonardo Tarriba began the second year of his two-year term as… Read More

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